Real Life Mama: One of the best Christmas gifts

I have always heard that accepting a gift from a child is the best thing because it is usually all that they have to give. But, let’s be honest, when a kid is in a field of dandelions and hands you the 15th one, it doesn’t always feel like it is all that they have to give.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I certainly collected all of those flowers and even put some in vases when my children would bring them to me. I loved that they thought and cared about me enough to want me to have them. However, I don’t think the true essence of a gift from my child has been felt more than watching my Reagan these last few weeks.

You see, Reagan really wanted to get me something for Christmas on her own. She knows I love candles and melts and all the smell-good stuff. So, when her best friend Onna was doing a fundraiser for dance that happened to have those things available, she knew it was her way to get me a present.

This little girl started collecting all the money she had – her coins, a few dollars – she even asked her daddy for a couple of bucks. Then, on facetime with Onna, she went through all the things with Onna and her mom. Slightly concerned about what was going on (I mean, did this kid know this stuff wasn’t free), Onna’s mom, rightfully so, questioned it.

Once Reagan explained to her what she was doing, Onna’s mom, Jenn, read to her all the different scents and Reagan picked out the one she wanted for me.

Unbeknownst to her, I was aware of the fundraiser from a social media post by Jenn and happened to be nonchalantly listening while I cleaned the kitchen as Reagan was setting her plan up. (Look, us Mamas are always listening).

Reagan started counting out her money to give to Onna the next day and realized she was a few dollars short. She went searching for any more spare change and then finally came to me – almost defeated – and asked me for a few bucks. Because I had figured out the circumstance, I didn’t ask questions. As the lady who never has cash, I was able to scrounge up three dollars and handed them over. Her eyes lit up as she was certain she had enough money then.

Little miss went back to counting, and after she realized she had more than enough, she gave me back a dollar. The giggles in her excitement were heart-warming. She was so excited to have not only come up with this idea, but also put it into action and (almost) pay for it all herself.

But then she had to wait for it to come in. She let me in on the secret that she had something for me but did not tell me anymore. Then, one night at dinner, her low was that “the candle she ordered from Onna was a few days late.” I wasn’t certain that it was a candle, but I still played it off like I didn’t hear her say that.

Within minutes after dinner, I found her crying in her room. Irritated with herself, she sobbed that she couldn’t keep a secret and ruined it. All this sweet babe wanted to do was surprise me with this gift that she put so much into, and she accidentally told us all what it was.

My sweet girl. Cuddling up next to her, I comforted her and told her just how excited I was to give her gifts to her as well. And that keeping Christmas gifts a secret was hard!

Then we talked about the how much fun giving is – the joy of picking out something specific for someone you love and anticipating the happiness that it will bring them. Her little, giving, 8-year-old self wasn’t spending the weeks before Christmas longing for what Santa was going to put under the tree. Instead, it was busy using every last dime she had to pay for, and figuring out a way to get, a gift for me.

I reminded her that I didn’t know the scent yet – that it would still be a surprise. Remembering that, she perked right up. She was excited again – and, once it came in, even wrapped it up herself and put it in my stocking. And while I don’t know what this candle looks like or smells like yet, you better believe that I will burn it until it runs out!

But it’s not about the actual candle at all. What this baby girl doesn’t realize is that she already gave this Mama one of the best gifts I could ever receive. In a world where there is so much emphasis on receiving, this child selflessly couldn’t wait to give. And if that’s not a gift filled with Jesus, then I don’t know what is.

Sarah (Pitson) Shrader was born and raised in Lima. She is a Lima Central Catholic and Tiffin University graduate. Sarah is a full-time working mama who enjoys writing about her somewhat crazy, always adventurous life as a mother. She lives in Bath Township with her daughters and writing inspirations, Maylie and Reagan.